Her new relationship was going well after two months, but then they hit a rough patch. My friend confided that they’d gone from early “awe” to an uncomfortable air of judgment. All of a sudden it seemed like she couldn’t do anything right: she’d be on the phone with her girlfriends when he tried to call, she cut up the onions too big for his favorite chili recipe, and she preferred sitting by the pool instead of playing tennis. (He didn’t seem to mind the pool when they first met!)
It sounded to me like a break-up was just around the corner, so I was surprised that the relationship was back on track when I talked with her the next time.
“I was thinking about breaking-up with him; it seemed like I couldn’t do anything right and that’s no place to be in a relationship. It was feeling like he wanted me to think just like he did and be available every time he wanted to talk. Everything changed one Sunday when we were watching a movie on TV and I’d made some guacamole. He took one bite and said, “You’ve mashed up the avocados too much; they should be chunkier.” I just blurted out, “Do not scrutinize me! It doesn’t matter how big the avocado chunks are it’s a matter of personal preference, not life and death. Just because you prefer chunkier guacamole doesn’t mean I have to, too. Do not scrutinize everything I do and say!”
“Wow. That was bold. What if he’d been upset and decided to end the relationship?” I asked.
“If he did end it then it wasn’t meant to be. But I couldn’t continue a relationship with him constantly judging me. I believe that as Christians we are here to help each other in our faith and at times offer rebuke. But those are on issues of values and beliefs, not on cooking preferences. When he started judging me all the time, I started feeling inferior. That’s never okay in a relationship.”
We talked about examples of Jesus pointing out people’s sins like the adulterous woman He met at the well and how He rebuked James and John for showing their pride and envy in wanting preferred seats with God. My friend is right on: Jesus did rebuke others often, but he stuck to important topics of pride, anger, lust etc., and when he did rebuke, He did it with love, not superiority, power or out of anger.
“How’s the relationship now?”, I asked recently. “Stronger than ever. We had to get past that point of petty rebuke. Now when we aren’t in agreement on small things, we actually enjoy the conversation, learning from each other of a different perspective. But on the important things like our faith and beliefs, we’re sensitive to each other’s needs and the trials we are facing. But any rebuke is done with love and caring, not to make one of us feel inferior to the other.”
I want to remember my friend’s wise words the next time I feel the need to criticize someone for the “small differences”.
Blessings, my friend,